Philadelphia Jewish Community Rallying Behind ‘Moonshot’

For Wayne Kimmel, investing his time into eradicating cancer through Vice President Joe Biden’s moonshot project hits home for him.

Wayne Kimmel would be just as invested in getting the cancer “moonshot” off the ground even if he hadn’t grown up close friends with Vice President Joe Biden’s late son, Beau. But now it’s become even more personal to him — and the rest of the Philadelphia Jewish community, which is rallying behind the project.
“I grew up in Delaware, and Beau and Hunter” — Biden’s other son — “and I were all friends,” said Kimmel, managing partner of SeventySix Capital of Radnor and treasurer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia the past seven years. “Joe used to come to all our games.
“His idea of collaboration with the smartest researchers in the world is what we need to do. It’s not an easy thing to do, but the amazing thing in the wake of Beau’s death is how we’ve rallied together. The program is in its formative stages, but we’re excited to get so many involved. I believe this is an issue we can all get behind and support.”
As critical as it is, the support can’t just come from the Philadelphia area. That’s at the heart of the moonshot’s projected success. When Biden came to the Abramson Center at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Jan. 15, he warned how “cancer politics” hampered research and slowed potential breakthroughs.
That won’t be an issue here, according to Kimmel. “What I’m most excited about is the fact this effort is collaborative between health insurance companies — like Independence Health Group — and the major pharmaceutical companies,” said Kimmel, who serves on the boards of trustees for the Jewish Federations of North America and the Kimmel Center respectively. “The whole thing is a collaborative effort to find the most innovative solution to cure cancer. The vice president is breaking down all the barriers and we’re all coming together to find a cure for cancer.”
Biden is in the midst of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was accompanied to the annual gathering of the planet’s most economically influential players by Dr. Howard Krein, chief medical officer of New York-based StartUp Health, who was one of the 10 doctors at the table when Biden spoke at Abramson. Krein also happens to be Biden’s son-in-law, having married his daughter, Ashley.
“StartUp Health has all young, innovative brains solving some of health care’s top problems,” said Kimmel, a board member of Start Up. “They’re very excited to be part of it, and my company is in the middle of all this.”
They’re hardly alone, putting their dollars behind their words, just as philanthropists like the Perelmans and Abramsons have done for years. “I think it’s going to take billions and billions from the private sector and all the major institutions to cure cancer,” predicted Kimmel, whose partner at SeventySix Capital, Jon Powell, is heavily involved in the program as well. “But we have the voices of a lot of entrepreneurs at the table.”
Plus, a number of beautiful medical minds. “Fortunately, we have the greatest minds in America and around the world willing to join us and try to solve the problem,“ added Kimmel, chairman of the developmental committee at Einstein Health Network, which just raised $150 million in celebration of its sesquicentennial. “It’s been proven one institution or one government agency can’t do it on its own.”
That won’t stop individuals like Wayne Kimmel, Jon Powell and other concerned members of the Philadelphia Jewish community from doing their part to make Joe Biden’s campaign a success. “It all ties back to our Jewish community and the people involved,” said Kimmel, who revealed he has met his buddy, Joe Biden’s boss, President Barack Obama. “We as Philadelphia Jews should be proud.”
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